Future Growing Pains Will Take Place in Petri Dishes

That's an ear implant. It's getting seeded with cartilage cells at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, which is "part a consortium of researchers working to apply the science of regenerative medicine to battlefield injuries." Gizmodo has a fascinating (if brief) interview with Dr. Anthony Atala, who's grown human organs and tissue in a lab for about 20 years. Ideas like "tissue engineering" and "regenerative medicine" sound like science fiction to me, but apparently they're very real, and the future looks bright.While a time table for progress is tough to assess at this point, Atala sees "a future when organs will be available off-the-shelf, ready to 'plug in' and replace injured or diseased organs." He believes that "we'll have a boutique of technologies that will includes tissue engineering and cell therapies and doctors will select the ideal treatment based on the patient's needs."I recommend taking a look at this video gallery, with clips depicting efforts to grow a human ear, finger, and, ultimately, an entire limb.Via PSFK.